Walkers Haute Route (Chamonix to Zermatt)

  • Matterhorn getting closer and closer - © Rick McCharles
  • Alps High Route - Mt Blanc to Matterhorn  - © Rick McCharles
  • Alps High Route - Mt Blanc to Matterhorn  - © Rick McCharles
  • Alps High Route - Mt Blanc to Matterhorn  - © Rick McCharles
  • Alps High Route - Mt Blanc to Matterhorn  - © Rick McCharles
  • Dawn Light on the Matterhorn - © Rick McCharles
  • Nearing Col Termin - © Min, Walkopedia friend
  • Chamois below path above Jungen - 2nd September 2015 - © Dick Everard
  • Matterhorn (4478m) - 4th September 2015 - © Dick Everard
  • Dick Everard at Augstbordpass - 3rd September 2015 - © Dick Everard
  • Grand Gendarme (4331), Weisshorn (4506m) and Bishorn (4153m) - 2nd September 2015 - © Dick Everard
  • View of Tsahalet (2523m) on the climb to Col Forcletta (2874m) - 2nd September 2015 - © Dick Everard
  • Corne de Sorebois (2850m) - 1st September 2015 - © Dick Everard
  • Cabane de Moiry on descent - 1st September 2015 - © Dick Everard
  • Lac de Moiry with Pointe de Tsat? (3077m) on left from Cabane de Moiry - 31st August 2015 - © Dick Everard
  • Glacier de Moiry from path to Cabane de Moiry - 31st August 2015 - © Dick Everard
  • H?rens cattle, native to canton of Valais beside lake above Remointse du Tsat? - 31st August 2015 - © Dick Everard
  • Path at Lac Bleu (2090m) above La Gouille - 30th August 2015 - © Dick Everard
  • Mont Collon (3637m) and Pigne d"Arolla (3796m) from Hotel du Glacier, Arolla - 29th August 2015 - © Dick Everard
  • View from Pas de Ch?vres (2885m) with Dents des Bouquetins and the Matterhorn (4478m) in the far centre - 29th August 2015 - © Dick Everard
  • Col Termin (2648m) with Combin de Corbassi?re (3715m) and Petit Combin (3663m) - 28th August 2015 - © Dick Everard
  • Dick Everard with Grand Combin (4314m), Combin de Corbassi?re (3715m) and Petit Combin (3663m) below Col Termin - 28th August 2015 - © Dick Everard
  • Cabane du Mont Fort (2547m) - 27th August 2015 - © Dick Everard
  • Beginning of path to Col Termin with Petit Combin (3663m) from Cabane du Mont Fort - 27th August 2015 - © Dick Everard
  • Trient Glacier from Fen?tre d"Arpette (2665m) - 25th August 2015 - © Dick Everard
  • Path and Bisse (irrigation channel) between Col de la Forclaz and Chalet du Glacier - 25th August 2015 - © Dick Everard

Key information: Walkers Haute Route (Chamonix to Zermatt)

    • A famous high route from Chamonix to Zermatt.  Absolutely classic Alpine scenery, snowy peaks, glaciers, high meadows and deep valleys, close-up views of such icons as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. 
      • 180+km, 12-14 days, 12,000m of ascent and 10,000m of descent. But no pass over 3,000m, so, while demanding, it isn't unpleasantly high.
        • This is a tough walk in high, remote mountains, on which you will have to be self-sufficient and where altitude can cause real problems. Come prepared.
          • ANYONE GOT ANY GOOD PHOTOS? WE WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO POST THEM!

Walkopedia rating

(Top 100)
  • Walkopedia rating88.5
  • Beauty35
  • Natural interest16.5
  • Human interest5
  • Charisma34
  • Negative points2
  • Total rating88.5
  • Note: Negs: popularity in high season

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 12-14 days
  • Maximum Altitude: 3,796m
  • Level of Difficulty: Difficult
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Glacier de Moiry from path to Cabane de Moiry - 31st August 2015 - © Dick Everard

WALK SUMMARY

This famous 184km high route from Chamonix to Zermatt in without doubt one of the world's great walks, winding through absolutely classic Alpine scenery: the snowy peaks, glaciers, high meadows and deep valleys on the Suisse side of the high ridge of the Pennine Alps, the greatest group of peaks over 4,000m in western Europe, with close-up views of such icons as Mont Blanc and (a perfect finale) the Matterhorn. The different stages have their special features and excitements, creating a magnificent totality.

The wildflowers are gorgeous in spring and early summer, and very varied as a result of the differing underlying rocks. Animals include chamois, ibex and the lovable marmots.

The Haute Route crosses the grain of land, crossing deep, glacially hewn valleys running northward out of the high range, and 11 ridges between them. It involves 12,000m of ascent and 10,000m of descent (more if you take higher options available), so is quite demanding - but no pass exceeds 3,000m, so, while you will feel some altitude, it isn't unpleasantly high.

The full trail takes 12-14 days, the shorter alternative enabled by combining the short first day  with day 2, and walking from St Niklaus direct to Zermatt at the end, rather than via the Europa Hut. There are plenty of variants, many of the higher/longer day alternatives being unmissable if you think you have the energy.

Highlights include:

 

{C}-          A too-good-too-miss, one excellent preliminary (not strictly part of the Haute Route): to start by taking the cable car from Chamonix into The Aiguilles Rouges, visiting The Lac Blanc, with its unforgettable views into the Mont Blanc massif, then traversing across to join the main route at The Col de Balme.

{C}-          Crossing the Fenetre d'Arpette, the high and dramatic alternative on Day 2 (Trient to Champex), which is also on the Tour du Mont Blanc. Quite demanding. Superb views, including close to glaciers.

{C}-          The route from Cabane Mont Fort to Cabane de Praifleuri (Day 5) across several passes in dramatic, broken high country, along a high ledge called the Sentier des Chamois and winding below the Grand Desert glacier, with super views throughout.

{C}-          The walk beside beautiful Lac des Dix and across the 2,919m Col de Riedmatten to the small village of Arolla (Day 6), a superb and varied day's walking.

{C}-          The crossing from La Sage to the superbly sited Cabane de Moiry (Day 8), over the Col de Tsaté taking in views of the Glacier de Moiry and a ring of broken peaks.

{C}-          The crossing from Cabane de Moiry to Zinal (day 9), over the enthralling - iewed Col de Sorebois, the descent spoilt a bit by chairlift mess.

{C}-          The crossing from Zinal to Gruben (aka Meiden) (Day 10) via the Forcletta (or a longer alternative via the Hotel Weisshorn)

{C}-          The stage (Day 11) from Graben to St. Niklaus, over the Augustbordpass at 2,894m, which is claimed by some to be the best crossing of all, with some extraordinarily fine views from the high ground.

{C}-          The Europaweg, 2 days and 31km (Days 12-13-ish) from Gasenried to Zermatt via the Europa Hut. Relatively recently created this route winds from staggering view to staggering view, of the Mattertal and its famous eponymous mountain - and much else. A superb finale. (You can walk St. Niklaus to Zermatt in a lower, one - day alternative if time is short.)

 

Accommodation will be a mixture of village hotels/hostels and mountain huts, all providing food so you won't be too weighed down.

See Walkopedia's friend Dick Everard's account of walking the Walkers Haute Route here.

This page is still at an early stage of development. Please help us by making suggestions and sending photos! Thank you!

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist. Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.

Books and Maps

Suggest books and maps

 Books on this walk     

Chamonix to Zermatt: A Walkers Haute Route - Kev Reynolds, Cicerone: as usual, an exemplary guide, engaging, lovely photos and excellent information on the route

Walking in the Alps - Lonely Planet 

Other books

Chapter in Trekking Atlas of the World – Ed. Jack Jackson; and Walking the World’s Natural Wonders – ed. Jon Sparks.

Maps

Excellent maps can be bought locally, fairly easily.

 Stanfords: www.stanfords.co.uk. A good online specialist source of worldwide maps (it is also good for guidebooks). Also try www.mapsworldwide.com and www.trektools.com.

 Best times to walk/weather

Best times to walk

July- September. Early July can still see snow-bound passes in a heavy year, so check if you plan to go then. And many huts close at the end of September.

Weather

Generally fine in season, but come prepared for unpredictable mountain weather – with afternoon thunderstorms pretty frequent in July to mid August.

 For detailed weather information, have a look at: www.worldweather.org or www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/country-guides.

 Getting there/transport/permits/fees

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 Geneva is the main international airport for Chamonix. About 1.5 hrs drive. Trains (with several changes) to/from Geneva to Chamonix and direct buses. You can either fly out from Zurich, or return to Geneva (a slower option) – using trains is easiest.

 Skyscanner is an excellent (relatively new) site for finding the flights you need; otherwise try Lastminute.com, or look at what’s available on Tripadvisor.

 Good train connections to Chamonix, and some long-distance buss, too.

 No permits are needed to do this walk -  but you will need to book accommodation well ahead at busy times (July, August).

 Those on organised expeditions will be transported from/to arranged start/departure points.

 Local taxi services generally exist in the towns, can (eg) take to or pick you up from a roadhead, or transport luggage.

Route(s)

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 See Walk Summary above.

 Possible problems, health, other warnings

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 {C}{C}·         {C}Altitude: Likely to affect you a bit: expect to puff and perhaps a mild headache.

{C}{C}·         {C}Mountain weather: snow, rain, severe cold and wind are possible at any time of year and the weather can change rapidly. Afternoon thundrstorms July to mid August. Come prepared.

{C}{C}·         {C}Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself.

{C}{C}·         {C}Heights: can be dangerous; some sctions are not for those who have difficulties with heights.

{C}{C}·         {C}While the trail is well walked, this is remote country: help may be hard to get if things go wrong.

See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and problems can arise on any walk. Many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks and possible problems. This website cannot, does not purport to, identify all actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to a walk or a country. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Make sure you have appropriate insurance.

Guided or independent?

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Independent

Almost everyone would do this walk independently, but come properly prepared.

Guided/supported

Some people form or join organised/guided expeditions. Choosing a suitable guide or company is of course vital, and the guidebooks contain good advice in this regard.

If hiring a guide locally, meet him/her and get comfortable before committing. Make sure all requirements are understood and agreed – including of course, remuneration!

Expedition organisers include

{C}{C}· {C} Wilderness Travel – www.wildernesstravel.com – 12 day trek hiking the Walkers’ Haute Route

{C}{C}· {C}Sherpa Expeditions – www.sherpa-walking-holidays.co.uk

{C}{C}· {C} Walks Worldwide - www.walksworldwide.com

{C}{C}· {C}Inntravel – www.inntravel.com

{C}{C}· {C}High Places – www.highplaces.co.uk

PLEASE HELP Walkopedia by recommending any reputable guides or tour organizers that you know of – local or otherwise.

Accommodation

Once on the trail, you will stay in a mixture of village accommodation (with a selection ranging from smart hotels to dormitories) and mountain huts which will feed you. Bring a sleeping bag liner, but you don’t need to carry a sleeping bag.

The guidebooks have a selection of possible accommodation.

There are various relevant accommodation websites. Search “[place] accommodation”.

See what the commentary on Tripadvisor is on possible places to stay – although do take their reviews with a pinch of salt, as they can be “interested”.

A good range of hotels can be found on the unimaginatively named but effective Hotels.com.

If you’re on a budget, Hostelbookers usually has a good selection of cheaper-end accommodation; or perhaps try for some bargain luxury on Lastminute.com.

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Other information and tips

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Useful websites and information

There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.

{C}{C}·         {C}http://www.chamonix.net/english/summer-activities/trekking/haute-route

{C}{C}·         {C}http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haute_Route

{C}{C}·         {C}http://www.utracks.com/utuk/index.php?module=we_trip_search_results&keyword=haute+route&gclid=Cj0KEQiAiamlBRCgj83PiYm6--gBEiQArnojD7v6_ONbaLVRdQ7EY8u6V70Non4YyGLFMsci3-4hCpYaAsqN8P8HAQ

{C}{C}·         {C}http://www.alpineexploratory.com/holidays/walkers-haute-route.html

{C}{C}·         {C}http://www.alpinetreks.co.uk/Trek/Haute_Route/overview.html

{C}{C}·         {C}www.flickr.com

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Other things to do in the area

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Other walks

Switzerland has a huge variety of great walks. There is likely to be a good walk within range wherever you may be.

Other activities

Endless

COMMUNITY COMMENTS AND PHOTOS

Name: Min
Posted on: 08/08/2015
The final two days from Gasenreid to Zermatt via the Europa Hut are closed at the moment due to rock falls. Europa Hut can be accessed by ascending directly from Randa, but this adds a huge ascent to a big day. So we decided, sadly we would miss the Europa hut and walk up the valley to Zermatt. If you add a couple of days to your Zermatt stay, the telecabine up to the Klein Mattahorn, 3880m, to view the Mattahorn is well worth the 100SF price tag. Descend down to Zermatt from the Schwartzsee station, through he Zum See Village. The second day, take the bubble up to Schwartzsee and walk to the Hornlihut. It says it is a 2 1/2 hour walk but you will be fit from walking the Haute Route so it took just 1 1/4 hrs.


Walkopedia says: THANK YOU, MIN - precious info!

Name: Dick Everard
Posted on: 24/09/2015
I have loaded some photographs of my trek on the Walker's Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't kind to us over the last three days when there are supposed to be the best views. All of my photos can be seen at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/136214554@N06/albums/72157656272951134 And in due course I will write up my diary. My general comment is that it is a lovely walk and although hard not so difficult that my self at 67 could walk it quite easily and I met a 73 year old who was managing without any difficulty. Admittedly, the weather although cloudy over the last few days was kind with very little wind and warm temperatures. This was between 23rd August and 4th September.


Walkopedia says thank you Dick for some (as always!) brilliant photos which really give a feel for the magic of this route.


Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

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Mont Collon (3637m) and Pigne d'Arolla (3796m) from Hotel du Glacier, Arolla - 29th August 2015 - © Dick Everard

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Beginning of path to Col Termin with Petit Combin (3663m) from Cabane du Mont Fort - 27th August 2015 - © Dick Everard...
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